Accompanying Secretary Sebelius’s letter was a one-page attachment setting forth the Administration’s “Legal Basis for Utilizing Waiver Authority in TANF.” This document recapitulates the legal basis offered in HHS’s earlier Information Memorandum—i.e., that because Section 1115 authorizes waiver of requirements in Section 402 and Section 402 mentions Section 407, Section 1115 authorizes HHS to waive Section 407.
By its own terms, Section 407 establishes a set of obligations on states accepting TANF funding from the federal government. It expressly conditions their entitlement to funds on satisfying specified “work requirements.” It contains no exception to its reach and no provision giving the Secretary of HHS authority to relax or waive its requirements. There can be no question but that, by default, it applies to all states accepting TANF funding. HHS does not dispute this point, nor could it.
But the Administration’s interpretation of Section 415, even if accepted by a court, is actually fatal to its position regarding Section 1115 authority. It concedes, as it must, that Congress allowed states obtaining interim-period waivers to ignore every single new requirement of the 1996 Act , which states were required to implement immediately upon their becoming effective. This is in tension, to say the least, with the Administration’s more fundamental argument that those same states could, under subsequent Section 1115 waivers granted after the 1996 Act went into effect, abandon those same work requirements that Congress specifically required that they implement even under interim-period waiver plans. It makes no sense to suggest that Congress was so concerned about ensuring that the work requirements were not waived that it inserted a stop-gap provision to prevent waiver during the interim period following the passage but then authorized HHS to waive those requirements at will at any time thereafter.
Section 415’s Limitation on the Secretary’s Waiver Authority. That the Secretary lacks authority to waive Section 407’s work requirements is confirmed by another provision of the 1996 Act: Section 415, which provides additional limitations on the Secretary’s waiver power with respect to work requirements. Section 415 is obtusely written, and the interplay of its subsections may be subject to differing interpretations with regard to the current dispute, but all possible interpretations cut strongly against the Secretary’s claim that she has authority to waive the work requirements of Section 407.
The absurdity of this argument demonstrates its fallacy: If the Administration’s interpretation of Section 415 is correct, then its interpretation of Section 1115 to allow it to waive work requirements is surely wrong.
However, most chose to forgo their food stamp benefits rather than fulfill the requirement.
A similar pattern of caseload decline happened after the 1996 welfare reform, which transformed the largest cash assistance welfare program by inserting work requirements.
In 2014, however, Maine chose to stop waiving the work requirement.
After the work requirement was put into place, Maine’s caseload of able-bodied adults without dependents dropped by 80 percent within three months.
Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services reached out to able-bodied adult recipients to let them know about community service opportunities that would fulfill the work requirement.
They are limited to three months of food stamps unless they are working part time or participating in job training or community service.
However, in 2009, the Obama administration suspended the work requirement for nearly two years.
As a result, its caseload plummeted.
Technically, the federal food stamp program has a modest work requirement for able-bodied adults without dependents.
Within about five years, the caseload had declined by half.
Work requirements serve as a gatekeeper to ensure that those truly in need receive welfare assistance.
TANF, however, scrapped the prior approach, replacing the specific strictures of Section 402 with general requirements that afforded states substantial flexibility in the design of their programs, over which the Secretary retained waiver authority to provide still-further flexibility. But where Congress sought to preclude state flexibility, as with work requirements, it used mandatory language and placed those requirements in separate provisions not subject to Section 1115.
The history of Section 402 also shows that Congress intended this distinction. Prior to the 1996 Act, Section 402 contained all requirements for state welfare programs while providing the states substantially less flexibility in the structure and operation of their programs. It opened with the command that “[a] State plan for aid and services to needy families with children …” and proceeded through the subsequent nine pages of the official U.S. Code to enumerate in excruciating detail every requirement for state programs, all of them mandatory. Accordingly, Section 1115 (which did then, as now, apply to Section 402) permitted the Secretary to waive any requirement whatsoever respecting states’ welfare programs.
This policy benefits not only taxpayers but also the individuals who are steered toward the job market, where they can build their resumes, skills and connections.
Americans support the idea of work requirements for welfare.
In California every employer is required by law (Labor Code Section) to provide a safe and healthful workplace for his/her employees. Title 8 (T8), of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), requires every California employer to have an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program in writing that must be in accord with T8 CCR Section 3203 of the General Industry Safety Orders. Additional requirements in the following T8 CCR Safety Order Sections address specific industries: